Lifestyle & Philosophy
For many of us (including me), our shoulders are where we store our tension. Some of this is ergonomic- being at a computer all day puts us in a posture where it is very easy to hunch our shoulders and scrunch up the backs of our necks. Of course it is also possible to sit tall with relaxed shoulders and a long comfortable spine- I usually start out like that but once I'm engrossed in what I'm doing, crane my face closer and closer to the glowing screen. Even the cold weather makes us hunch our shoulders as we to try conserve warmth. Driving, bike riding, washing dishes, drawing, holding children, carrying heavy bags- so many things in modern life make us hunch our shoulders!
Often there is also an emotional component to our hunchy shoulders. Energetically the chest, shoulders, arms and hands connect to Anahata Heart Chakra. Our center for giving and receiving love, compassion and empathy- as we express with a big warm hug! We also speak of 'shouldering heavy burdens' when we are feeling weighed down our shoulders are often the physical expression of our emotional load. Often even after the intensity of the situation has passed, we habitually hold that tension in our shoulders. If our shoulders and chest are tight, our breathing is restricted, often we end up in physical pain with head aches and disrupted sleep and the whole stress spiral intensifies!
I've illustrated a simple easy sequence- Winter Shoulder sequence, that I've personally found really helpful to release that stubborn shoulder tension- the best part is, you get to lay down the whole time!
Even our yoga practice- usually the key to unlocking held tension can put pressure on our shoulders. Chutaranga is often the culprit. I've written a longer post on the issue here, but put simply when we let the level of our shoulders dip below the level of our elbows we are at risk of straining the muscles at the front of our shoulders and tensing the muscles at the back of the chest. Generally any adjustment in yoga that encourages the neck to feel longer and settles the shoulders into their sockets is a good move. Of course treating your own body with the Anahata qualities of compassion and love will also serve you well!!